Fertility Rates – Declining trends seen in India

Fertility Rates – Declining trends seen in India

Context: India’s total fertility rate (TFR) is projected to decline to 1.29 children per woman by 2050 and slip further to 1.04 by 2100, according to a recent study by Lancet on global fertility rates.
Key Findings:
 The study suggests that India’s TFR, or the average number of children born to a woman, has been seeing a decline over the last century, with the fertility rate 
falling from 6.18 children per woman in 1950 to a projected 1.29 children per woman by 2050. 
 The study stated that India has already fallen below the replacement level of fertility, required for a population to exactly replace one generation with another.
 In 2021, India’s TFR was at 1.91 children per woman, below the necessary replacement  fertility level of 2.1. The decline in TFR is in line with global trends, stating that its estimates forecast a decline in fertility rates all around the globe, over the 
coming century.

What are the reasons behind fall in fertility rates in India?
The decline in fertility rates in India is a multifaceted phenomenon influenced by various factors.
Higher Level of Education Among Females: As education levels rise, women tend to delay marriage and childbirth. Educated women often prioritize their careers and personal development, leading to smaller family sizes.
Increased Mobility: Urbanization and improved transportation have increased mobility for both men and women. This mobility allows people to pursue education, work, and other opportunities, impacting family planning decisions.
Late Marriages: The average age at marriage has increased over the years. Delayed marriages directly affect fertility rates, as couples have fewer reproductive years.
Financial Independence: Women’s increasing financial independence empowers them to make informed choices about family planning. Economic stability allows couples to plan for smaller families.
Better Access to Family Planning Methods: Improved awareness and accessibility to contraceptive methods contribute to lower fertility rates. Couples can choose when and how many children they want.

What are the implications of declining fertility rates for India?
Ageing Population: As fertility rates decrease, the proportion of elderly citizen’s increases. India faces the challenge of providing adequate healthcare, social security, and support for this ageing population.
Labour Force Shortages: A shrinking working-age population due to lower birth rates can lead to labour shortages. This affects economic productivity and growth.
Gender Imbalances: Gender preferences during family planning may exacerbate existing gender imbalances. Efforts are needed to ensure equal opportunities for both genders.
Economic Impacts: A smaller workforce can hinder economic development. Policies promoting job creation and skill development become crucial.
 Social Security and Pension Reforms: With fewer children to support ageing parents, robust social security systems and pension reforms are essential.

Way Forward
 Economic policies that stimulate growth and job creation, alongside social security and pension reforms are essential in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of declining fertility rates.
 Higher male engagement in household activities: For women to be able to manage careers with motherhood, it would be crucial for men to take greater responsibility for household and care work.

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